Job Title: Physical Therapist
Type of Company: I work for a home care agency that provides nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy and home health aide services in the patient's home.
Education: BS, Exercise Physiology, UMass-Lowell MS, Physical Therapy, UMass-Lowell
Previous Experience: I worked 3 years as a physical therapist in an acute care setting. I provided physical therapy in the intensive care unit and to post-surgical patients.
Job Tasks: I work for a home care agency providing physical therapy to patients in the home setting. This can include homes, apartments and assisted living facilities. The majority of the patients I work with have been recently discharged from a hospital or rehab facility.
My responsibilities as a therapist are to evaluate a person's safety in their home environment and recommend any equipment they might benefit from. I also assess their strength, balance and walking to develop an exercise and treatment plan to improve their function so they can return to their previous activities.
One unique aspect of working as a physical therapist in home care is that you are also a case manager. As case manager you are responsible for the supervision of home health aides and physical therapy assistants. I also need to ensure that the patient's medications are correct and that they understand how and when to take them.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: One of the best parts of working as a physical therapist is the freedom it affords me. I enjoy managing my own schedule. It's also great to work with a patient population that is able, with the benefit of therapy, to return to its previous activities. I also like working with occupational therapists and nurses.
One challenge in home care is how isolating it can be. I often feel that I am on my own and miss the collaboration with colleagues. Also, the regulatory paperwork can be very time-consuming, taking me away from treatment time with my patients.
Job Tips: High school students should take as many science courses as possible to build the strong science background necessary for the job. High school or college students should consider working as an aide in a PT clinic to see if this is the type of work they would like.
A recent graduate of PT school might consider practicing in different settings (such as hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, or outpatient clinic) early in his career. This will help him determine which area he'd would like to zero in on. Many hospitals or acute care settings also offer out-patient clinics for their patients where a budding a physical therapist can split his time, learning about both areas while working for the same employer.
Lastly, after beginning your career it is still important to continue your education through seminars and courses that will provide you with the opportunity to learn about emerging treatments for specific conditions.
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